Are you a company culture vulture?
The importance of creating the right company culture
How do you find out what your company culture should be and what difference will it make to your business?
By “company culture” we are talking about the physical environment of your business, its personality and its values, ethics and goals.
It’s not enough just to throw in some bean bags and a table tennis table and then tick company culture off the to-do list!
Setting your company culture
As your business grows, the chances are that it will take on its own culture without you even realising it.
- Do you have strong management structures in place or are people encouraged to speak directly to the boss, for example?
- Is your business big on ethical or environmental policies?
- Is it an open plan space where collaboration is encouraged
- Are there individual offices and siloed teams?
Here are some things to think about before setting off on creating your new company culture.
Who are you?
Maybe the place to start is to ask yourself the following:
- Why does my business exist?
- What are its values?
- What is my vision for the business (in 10 or 20 years’ time what would I have liked to achieve)?
This isn’t something you should do in a rush. It has to really have genuine meaning to you or it won’t stick.
Take the lead
Once the initial values and vision have been agreed and set, it’s important that the leaders of the business (this maybe one person or ten people) set a good example. They should also all be seen to be singing from the same hymn sheet.
This is really important if you discover that there are things which need to change in order for you to attain the company culture you want.
Start with reception
Culture is certainly more than just about the physical environment you’re in but that does play a big part. You should consider all of the workspace, so if you have a reception area best you tackle that first.
You want your customers to buy into your culture, so they need to experience it as soon as they walk in.
If you have reception staff, make sure they are included in the training and discussions of your business culture. They’re often the voice of your business and the first people that visitors will interact with when they visit.
Why is my company culture important?
Owning a small business is all consuming.
Setting it up, attracting and retaining customers, dealing with payroll and marketing can leave little time for anything else.
Companies which focus on developing a culture where employees feel engaged, empowered and appreciated and feel their work is meaningful create a workforce with a high sense of purpose.
It reinforces the self-esteem and confidence of individuals and teams, motivating them to achieve more.
For many people, having a workplace that suits their personality and that allows them to feel part of a collective is more important than a gym membership or a bonus.
If you are asked about the culture of your business, it’s far better to have a good answer prepared. You don’t want to bluster.
And you want to make sure that staff go home and share the culture of the business they work at too.
Now, more than ever, is the time to take company culture seriously.
Culture will be a key factor to millennials who are scanning the marketplace for their next job. And by 2020, millennials will comprise more than 50% of the UK workforce.
How they perceive the culture of your business and whether it feels a good fit for them is a key differentiator when millennials decide which positions to apply for.
You’ve been warned!
More productive staff
If your team is working together to achieve a common set of goals, they’ll have more focus. If you have a work space which is inspiring and if you provide benefits and perks which compliment your business, you will have a happier and more productive team.
Quicker decision making
Office politics can be tricky.
If you have a well thought out company culture, it will help guide policies and guidelines for how things should be done. Decisions on working late, dress codes, whether to work with a certain client or not, can all be referred to as your culture.
Always ask ‘does that fit with our culture?’
If it doesn’t, don’t do it. Less time spent on office politics means more time building your business.
Strengthening your brand
Having a strong company culture gives consumers a perception about your brand. It can make them more likely to buy from you.
If they can see that you’re focused on the wellbeing and safety of your team for example, customers will feel the business is trustworthy and genuine.
The environment is at the top of the agenda for many consumers now and having a culture which is clearly focused on sustainability and the impact of the business on the environment could make all the difference.